Side dishes. The forgotten ugly step-sister of your main entrée feature and for the most part, a quickly thrown together afterthought to round out the meal. In my youth, during the barren winter months, this would be a variation on a frozen vegetable theme. French cut beans, corn niblets, peas; zap it for 2 minutes, throw in some butter and voila! Side dish!
Now that I have grown some culinary….uh, intuition, I find that I concentrate on my side dishes much more. The side dish could, in fact, be the star of your meal. A quick soup, thrown together with pantry ingredients, but accompanied by a homemade bread slathered in garlic butter? Please pass the bread. A fine roast of beef, with a lovely gravy served along side a devilish pile of potatoes au gratin? Please pass the potatoes.
You get the idea.
But Beets may not be everyone’s idea of a perfect side dish, and I couldn’t have agreed more until a few years ago. My thoughts were that beets were grown in the ground, and that’s where they should stay. Having had my fair share of pickled beets and borscht as a child, I was not a born fanatic. Besides their lovely colours and variations, I could go forever without eating them. Sadly, my partner in life didn’t feel the same way. He liked beets, pickled even!
And so it was that I came to buy some lovely fresh, deep crimson coloured beets one year, in desperation of finding a new and healthy side dish I could love. I decided that nothing can taste bad when it is accompanied by garlic and rosemary and caramelized in a very hot oven. How right I was. This has now become a regular staple in the winter and late summer for us, as I could eat the whole dish myself.
I’m a changed woman friends! I no longer shun the little dirty buggers, even those ones swimming in brine at the back of my fridge.
Rosemary Roasted Beets
5 Large beets, tops removed (reserve for another meal!)
4 small sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1-2 tbsp canola oil
salt & pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
2.Peel the beets. I do this in the sink, with water running slightly. This helps to keep staining of your hands and cutting boards to a minimum. You could also fill the sink and do it under the water. Some people leave the skins on…
3. Cut beets into wedges (each beet should make 8 wedges).
4. In a large bowl, add beet wedges, minced rosemary and sliced garlic. Grind in some fresh salt and pepper and toss to coat.
5. Place in a shallow baking dish and cover. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
6. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving.